Tour Dubuque is a blast on 3-wheelers


Tour Dubuque offers a unique view of this Mississippi River city.

Tour Dubuque is a guided tour of the city’s riverfront, as well as some other city views. The tour is conducted on Trikkes (pronounced trikes) – 3-point standing “carving” vehicles. Carving refers to its style of movement – fluid, can turn into tight spots. It’s an electric-powered vehicle that can reach 16 mph. However, you will not come close to that speed on the tour.

Tim and Lisa on Trikkes

Riders stand during the ride. I haven’t ridden a Segway, but the movement of the Trikke seems to be more sporting than a Segway.

The tour is normally two hours long. However, Leo, the owner and main tour guide, spent a little more time with us as we traveled the riverfront, Millwork (industrial) district and Bluff Street area (home to older residences).

Tour Dubuque

After spending a required few minutes getting used to handling the Trikke (for safety purposes), off we went.

We started with a drive around the immediate downtown area. Tour Dubuque is centrally located downtown near 2nd and Main streets. It was across the street from our hotel – Hotel Julien.

Hotel Julien

He provided a brief history lesson about the hotel. It’s the oldest hotel in Dubuque. It’s named after Julien Dubuque, a French Canadian fur trader who settled in the area. He is credited with “founding” the city, but realistically, the years don’t add up, Leo joked.

Canfield Hotel

We got on our Trikkes and pedaled, err, rode to the next stop – the Hotel Canfield.

The hotel, built in 1891, was the scene of a terrible fire in 1946. Almost 20 people died and another 40 were injured as the fire spread through the six-story 200-room building.

Apparently, the Canfield was one of the last fires before sprinkler systems were installed nationwide.

Next stop was the beautiful Mississippi River Walk.

Mississippi Riverwalk

Dubuque did an amazing job in building up the riverfront. A brick and concrete walking area sits atop the levees.

Off the river walk are casinos and other attractions, including the Star Brewery Complex.

Star Brewery Complex

The Grand River Center events facility actually has an attractive overhang on the river walk.

The River Walk is home to “Art on the River.” The annual event shows different artwork each year.

One that Leo pointed out as a favorite is a baby deer. The fawn is looking behind it, toward the river. A “shadow” beneath the fawn is in the shape of a wolf that could be stalking the small deer.

Art on the River


We stopped at the Star Brewery Complex for a few minutes. We checked out the wine bar. The motif was interesting. Tables were made from glass with old barrels as stands.

Stone Cliff Winery

Inside the complex is a small museum recognizing the history of Star beer. The brewery was home to beer making on and off from 1933 until 1999. The city eventually acquired the property.


The exhibit offers a look at some of the equipment used in brewing the beer.

Dubuque Star beer cans, bottles and other memorabilia are on display.

Dubuque Star beer

Building signs hang in the complex’s main entrance.

Star beer signs

Getting back on the Trikkes, we took a short jaunt to the Shot Tower Landmark. It was originally used for lead smelting.

Shot Tower

After outliving its industrial use, the Shot Tower was used by a lumber company as a fire watch tower. It fell victim to a fire, itself.

Now, it stands as a memorial to the area’s history.

Millwork district

The longest ride we took was from the Shot Tower to the Millwork District. The Trikkes can move along at a good clip, but you never travel at a dangerous speed. Leo ensures safety first.

The Millwork District was one of our favorite places to visit. There has been some development in the area, with art galleries, a food co-op and a few other stores. Lisa and I thought that if a few restaurants and lounges were built in the area, it could be a really popular destination.

Dubuque food co-op

The food co-op was a nice place to visit. It serves a local base with primarily locally produced food.

Contractors developing the area work to use the existing infrastructure as much as possible, Leo said.

The courtyard of one building used refurbished equipment as flower beds.

upcycled plant beds

As we were pulling out of the Millwork District for our next location, a couple of people asked if we were a biker gang. We said we were “a Trikker gang.” Just a little riding humor.

Our next stop was the Bluff Street area – home to a lot of older residences.

Carnegie library

The city’s library – donated by Dale Carnegie in the 1800s – shares the Carnegie name with the Stout family name. The Stouts were major players in Dubuque history.

Stout home

The Stout home is across the street from the library. The mansion has two cherubs located in front. A beautiful flower bed flows along the sidewalk near the house.

Stout home cherubs

Next door, people can see renovation work being done to the house that once belonged to Stout’s sister.

Stout's sister's home

The original owner of one house on a street corner felt the neighbor had built his house too close to the property. A fence was built to separate them.


Later, the original owner bought the neighbor’s house and moved it about 11 feet away. This was done by filling the basement with water and letting it freeze over winter. The new house was then moved off its foundation to its new resting place.

A house being refurbished is actually a working bed and breakfast. The roof has original-style tiles on the roof.

Bed and breakfast

En route to Tour Dubuque’s office – and our starting point – we strolled down Main Street.

We stopped at the site of the first church in Iowa. The current church obviously is not the same building. But, it’s home to a collection of beautifully stained glass windows.

First church in Iowa

The town’s clock tower stands in the middle of the street. It’s the site of public concerts during the summer.

Clock Tower

We had a great time on our personal tour. I have a feeling that Leo provides the same enthusiasm for Dubuque and its history for all tours. His Love for Dubuque shines through.

Leo of Tour Dubuque

For more information on Tour Dubuque and its Trikke tours, please visit

Disclaimer: Thanks to Tour Dubuque and the Dubuque Visitors and Convention Bureau for the complimentary tour. However, all opinions and views are ours.